Resources & Zoom Chat - Reducing Climate Pollution From Transportation - March 6, 2022

Scott Henson
Scott Henson
Last updated 
The Recording of our Zoom Discussion on YouTube

Discussion Description:
In this discussion led by Andrew Kidde of 350 Washington, we discussed the best way to address the megaprojects of Washington state transportation and have people drive less is to stop providing more lanes every time that traffic jams appear. While those new lanes might relieve congestion for a while, the lanes will fill up and more pollution is created. It's a well known phenomenon called "induced demand." In addition to the climate benefits, we discussed the health, safety and equity benefits of transitioning our transportation infrastructure and embracing the concepts of the 15 minute city.

Primary Discussion Resources:

What Can I Do? Getting into Action!  Solutions From Drawdown and

  • The 15 Minute City (including action guides for Individuals, groups and companies). The fifteen-minute city shifts urban life away from the unit of the car and puts people at its heart. Such cities already exist. In Paris, Portland, Melbourne, and Madrid, fresh food, health-care, schools, offices, shops, parks, gyms, banks, and entertainment are all within a short distance of one’s home. While the exact blueprint for such transformation lies in the specific culture and history of each city, what is clear is that improving access to essential services benefits everyone, but especially the young, the disabled, and the elderly. Designing at a hyperlocal scale does not box us into our neighborhoods. Rather, it allows us to improve livability, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and build meaningful community. The fifteen-minute (or even twenty- or thirty-minute) city allows us to experience the entire city not out of necessity, but out of the joy of urban living.
  • Micromobility (including action guides).  Micromobility refers to small and lightweight vehicles. This includes both human- and electric-powered scooters, cycles, skateboards, rickshaws, and cargo bikes. Micromobility has the potential to improve last-mile connectivity to other forms of city transit in areas of low connectivity, while simultaneously addressing congestion, pollution, and emissions, and improving street life and health outcomes.
  • Electric Vehicles (including action guides).    Electric vehicles have reached a tipping point toward widespread adoption—and not a moment too soon. Greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector have more than doubled since 1970, with around 80 percent of that increase attributed to petroleum-powered road vehicles like cars, trucks, and buses. Today, such vehicles account for roughly 16 percent of total emissions worldwide, prompting governments, companies, and car owners to accelerate the shift to electric transport. EV technology has advanced rapidly in the last decade, making incredible strides in range, charging time, and affordability. Now comes the next horizon: creating extensive charging infrastructure, cleaning up electrical grids, sourcing batteries more sustainably, and ensuring equitable access for all.
  • Transportation Sector ( Getting people or things from point A to point B, and perhaps back again: In some ways, transportation is incredibly simple. Human beings would be stuck at the speed of walk, run, swim, or horse if it weren’t for planes, trains, automobiles, buses, bicycles, and boats. Mobility has played a critical and complex role in shaping society, and the demand for it is only growing.  Check out all solutions at the bottom of the Transportation Sector page on including Electric Bikes, Bicycle Infrastructure, Electric Cars, Electric Trains, Carpooling, Walkable Cities, and much more.

Resources Shared During Our Discussion:

  • Why the Concept of Induced Demand Is a Hard Sell. Both the public and policymakers have trouble understanding why building more roads and highways does not reduce congestion.
  • Jevons paradox. In economics, the Jevons paradox (sometimes Jevons' effect) occurs when technological progress or government policy increases the efficiency with which a resource is used (reducing the amount necessary for any one use), but the rate of consumption of that resource rises due to increasing demand. The Jevons paradox is perhaps the most widely known paradox in environmental economics. However, governments and environmentalists generally assume that efficiency gains will lower resource consumption, ignoring the possibility of the paradox arising.
  • Infrastructure plan calls for fixing the nation’s existing roads. Some states are still focused on expansion. For all the ambition of President Biden’s infrastructure proposal — massive spending boosts on trains and buses and a push to get Americans into electric cars — its priority for the nation’s road network is more basic: Fix them. The Federal Highway Administration estimates a $435 billion backlog of rehabilitation needs, while an analysis of agency data by The Washington Post shows a fifth of the nation’s major roads, stretching almost 164,000 miles, were rated in poor condition in 2019. That figure has stayed mostly unchanged for a decade.
  • Move Ahead Washington.  Move Ahead WA is a transformational 16-year package that creates a sustainable, achievable future for our transportation sector. House Democrats hosted over 90 listening sessions to hear the top transportation priorities from communities across the state. This package addresses the concerns we heard and reflects our focus on meeting the needs of every community in WA.Move Ahead WA is a commitment to our values and a promise to put the people of WA first. It’s a future-oriented proposal that addresses the realities people face today while investing in WA communities for tomorrow and beyond.  OPED in Seattle Times here.
  • RMi Shift Calculator. The SHIFT calculator enables users to estimate long-run (i.e., after 5 to 10 years) induced vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and emissions impacts from capacity expansions of large roadways in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) or urbanized counties, based on existing lane mileage and vehicle miles traveled data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
  • The myth of electric cars: Why we also need to focus on buses and trains. California recently announced that it plans to ban the sales of gas-powered vehicles by 2035, Ontario has invested $500 million in the production of electric vehicles (EVs) and Tesla is quickly becoming the world’s highest-valued car company. It almost seems like owning an electric vehicle is a silver bullet in the fight against climate change, but it isn’t. What we should also be focused on is whether anyone should use a private vehicle at all.
  • Concrete needs to lose its colossal carbon footprint. Wet concrete has been poured into buildings, roads, bridges and more for centuries. Structures using concrete have survived wars and natural disasters, outlasting many of the civilizations that built them1. Alongside its strength and resilience, concrete is also a staple of building because it is relatively cheap and simple to make. Worldwide, 30 billion tonnes of concrete is used each year. On a per capita basis, that is 3 times as much as 40 years ago — and the demand for concrete is growing more steeply than that for steel or wood.
  • 15 Minute Cities ( Everyone living in a city should have access to essential urban services within a 15 minute walk or bike. The 15-Minute City Project is designed to help access-focused urban transformations be what we need them to be: ambitious, inclusive, measurable and effectively implemented. RELATED: Here is the original TEDTalk from Carlos Moreno, the website an article from Bloomberg and a city being built from scratch in Utah around these concepts.

Full Chat Log:

00:20:46 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle):
00:21:03 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): The link to all the resources will be posted here...
00:22:52 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): If you have any questions please post to the chat window and we will do our best to moderate and ensure a lively and interactive conversation.  Also, if you want to ask the question “live” please raise your hand virtually (which you can find under “reactions”).
00:29:39 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle):
00:30:29 Chad Dougherty: Jevons paradox
00:30:33 Jeff Berner: Jevons Paradox
00:30:58 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle):
00:33:43 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle):
00:35:26 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): On Move Ahead Washington, OPED in Seattle Times:
00:36:44 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): More depth on the WA State Democrats site from a few weeks ago...
00:36:45 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle):
00:37:53 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): RMi Shift Calculator:
00:43:35 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle):
00:48:27 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): How do we induce non-car transportation?  Besides not expanding the highways and increasing public transportation, what can we do to induce more walking and bike riding?  What would it take to make Seattle a “15 minute city”?
00:50:13 Chad Dougherty: I wonder if the RMi Shift Calculator takes into account the road surface materials given that concrete production is one of the most carbon intensive activities that humans engage in:
00:50:27 richard hartung: There is a shift, slowly, to EVs. You've indicated that it's not an effective solution. Other than public transportation, which is hard to get people to use in many parts of the US, what is the alternative you advocate for other than  EVs?
00:55:01 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): On the topic of Electrical Vehicles, here is the link to the Drawdown take on that in their models to reverse the climate crisis:
00:59:58 Gloria: What about building walkable cities?  The boomers are downsizing and need age appropriate communities.
01:01:56 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): On walkable cities and transportation in general, here are a couple more resources from Drawdown: and
01:04:17 laurazeffer: Side note Message for Scott/Paul- is it possible to survey monkey the gang to have meetups moved up even a half hour- occasionally? Like 3:30-5pm or even 6:30pm to 8pm on Sunday evenings? (Or weekdays?)
01:05:48 laurazeffer: Also- I am hoping we could perhaps survey interest in an in- person meet up in Spring?? We could do my courtyard with plant based snacks gathering?? Just passing along my ideas but asking the majority would be great.
01:10:18 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): @Laura - no problem with looking into in-person meetings as well as asking people about times.  We will take that as a “homework assignment” for the sessions and conversations after the next scheduled meeting on “Spreading Truth at Scale”:
01:17:18 laurazeffer: Slightly off topic- are Amtrak trains diesel, electric or some combo? Can we assume that they are definitely better than flying across country?
01:18:23 Chris Meinig: @Laura, nearly all are diesels engines that drive electric generators
01:19:20 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): On 15 minute cities…
01:20:53 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): And Carlos Moreno’s TedTalk I mentioned earlier…
01:23:14 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): And Bloomberg’s article on this topic and the “Marchetti Constant” (people
01:23:26 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): Willingness to commit to work is about 30 minutes):
01:24:59 Chris Meinig:
01:25:09 Anand: New York City is a great example of a “non-planned” 15-min community… when we lived there it had more of a neighborhood feel than Seattle
01:25:28 Jeff Berner: My hometown is Sandy/Draper Utah!  I just went back there for my 40th high school reunion. And it is much much worse than it was as I was a kid. It is MORE car centric than ever.
01:25:29 laurazeffer: Sounds like the concept of co housing. Things are shared (tools, work etc) driveways are outside the housing area. You must walk into your house  and pass people on the way…#community
01:28:53 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): #community indeed, @Laura! 🙂
01:29:30 Gloria: Cohousing also addresses epidemic of loneliness.
01:30:34 laurazeffer: @Gloria, agree. I would move to one is a second. Unfortunately my husband isn’t interested.
01:33:42 laurazeffer: Sadly, I know some families that opted for the bigger SUV and giant camper-trailer in tow over pandemic to avoid flying. They LOVE their big Suv’s
01:40:00 Jeff Berner: We should tax land value and so much property value. If we taxed the big parking lots we'd have less big parking lots.
01:41:52 Chris Meinig: +1 Jeff
01:43:49 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): +2 (on my hometown Lubbock, Texas)
01:45:56 Chris Meinig: Thanks Andrew, really appreciate coming to chat with us today! need to get to another call..
01:46:24 Scott Henson (Drawdown Seattle): Yes, thank you Andrew - great discussion!
01:48:08 Jeff Berner: @Paul. We should have all four (4) lanes stop for pedestrians and then cross in all directions.
01:48:25 Suellen Mele: Thanks, Andrew! I especially appreciate how you provided so much useful big-picture context.
01:49:24 Anita Dygert-Gearheart: senator Cotton
01:49:43 laurazeffer: Heat pumps for peace!
01:49:57 Jae Geller: Indeed, Laura!
01:50:23 Andrew Kidde: Really enjoyed talking with you today.  TYhanks
01:50:31 Jae Geller: Thank you all!
01:50:38 Anita Dygert-Gearheart: thanks, Andrew
01:50:42 Suellen Mele: There’s an excellent article by Bill McKibben about responding with more heat pumps.
01:50:44 Anand: Thanks Andrew!
01:50:47 Courtney Ferguson: Thank you Andrew!
01:51:52 Jae Geller: Thanks so much for these amazing talks!
01:52:07 laurazeffer: Awesome, no worries! If the majority wants 3pm I will live with it.
01:52:30 Andrew Kidde: I have a thing to get to… Bye!
01:53:08 laurazeffer: Ed Sobey will be back with an update on Antartica as well. He will be contacting me soon re: getting a date set up.
01:53:43 Jae Geller: I have been following Ed Sobey online.Thanks so much for the follow up.